Ilford Town Centre ‘can keep bringing in the shoppers’
THERE is “nothing to fear” for Ilford businesses as they prepare to compete against Stratford’s new shopping metropolis.
That is the view of Marc Myers, manager of The Exchange Mall, High Road, Ilford.
He and Ilford Town Centre manager Neil Davis are overseeing a rapid transformation of Redbridge’s shopping hub, which they believe will help secure its future.
In the 20 months since the Ilford Business Improvement District (BID) launched, the town centre has been given its own police team, has had success in reducing antisocial behaviour in specific areas and has transformed the visual appearance of the pedestrianised area.
The BID has 480 town centre businesses, paying a levy to it, which equates to 1.2 per cent of their business rates.
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Each year, the BID receives �400,000 from this, plus an additional �200,000 from other sources, including Redbridge Council and the Metropolitan Police.
Mr Davis said: “For every �1 we get, we turn that into �4, which is a great strength of the BID. We’re aware of the financial pressures so we make sure we spend every penny wisely.
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“The BID is like a club, it’s not just a geographical zone.”
The five-year term of the BID began in April 2009, giving business owners access to training to help them improve their trade and the chance to air their views on what improvements should be made to the area via a town centre forum.
Speaking of the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre – the largest urban shopping centre in Europe and due to open in September – Mr Myers said: “What we’ve got to do is make sure we have the businesses here to serve our local community.”
About 95 per cent of shops in the town centre are occupied, with Primark set to open a store in February.
Mr Myers said: “The future is bright. The future is Ilford.”
In a coup for the town centre, procurement firm Meercat Associates will offer its services to town centre businesses to help get goods at the best prices by buying in bulk.
BID chairman Mr Myers said: “Meercat is a prime example of how we can contribute to the value of our businesses.”